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Qi shi er sha xing (1978)
classic kungfu action
Directed by Lin Bing, this kungfu classic features all sorts of various characters and concepts. The pirate Po Ho Nim has gathered 72 fighters to guard him from the Chinese government. However, a band of fighters from various parts of China take a stand and seek out Po to defeat him. This film also is memorable for its 7 foot tall, gold toothed monk who can bite through metal (a reference to James Bond?). The films action starts out slow, but picks up its pace as the heroes take on 4 different branches of Po's army. The ending, however, is a bit disappointing and anti climatic. All in all, classic kungfu action, if you don't take it too seriously.
Greatest Animation undertaking ever
I decided to review this film after seeing that it has a lower user rating than expected. Also, its re-release is coming down on the heels of Princess Mononoke, so i feel i have to reiterate its importance since many fans have since forgotten it.
First off, i'm reviewing the subtitled film. I feel no film should be appreciated in its dubbed form, for that is not the way the film was intended to be seen. Subtitles offer accurate dialogue and dramatics, not what the english voice actors and scriptors want you to hear.
Akira was one of the greatest undertaking in animation ever. Creating the fluid animation of the film without computer assistance was an achievement alone. This alone makes it one of the greatest animated films ever, at least in a technical aspect.
Alot of people complain about the story. The thing about Akira is that it was originally a 2000 page manga story, which means one second of the film equals about 3 manga pages. To cram all this information in, the story gets complicated and intricate on many occasions. Many anime fans are turned off by this because it means they might actually have to watch the film several times or pay close attention. This isnt Miyazake stuff, this is very complex material, with multifaceted viewpoints and morals, which is common in Katsuhiro Otomo's work. Once one watched it to the point where an understanding is reached, the film can be truly appreciated. And since the manga has been released stateside, fans can now get a better view on the full story, and can see what Otomo's full vision was intended to be.
Frankly, i don't know how Mononoke came to replace this film as greatest anime movie ever. The undertaking for Akira will never be matched again. The only film to come close, at least in complex moral/emotional issues was Hideki Anno's End of Evangelion, but that really is a different kind of film that works on a whole different level than Akira does.
In my mind, Akira will always be the grandaddy of all Anime films, the pinnacle to be reached, the king that has yet to be toppled off of its hill. Rating: 10/10
Ren zhe wu di (1982)
one of Chang Cheh's best
There's something about the Chinese take on the ninja that has always captured my attention. I think its the way they take the art of invisibilty a bit further than expected. This film, known as Chinese Super Ninja in the US and is probably one of Chang Cheh's best, performs the above beautifully. The featured element of the 5 element ninja is unique and well done. Each ninja clan has its own unique attack setup (gold-shields that fire spires, wood-ninjas posing as trees and using claws, water-ninja frogmen that pull kungfu fighters to the water where they can be easily killed, fire-smoke screens and fire setting traps, earth-underground spearmen). The first 30 minutes are practically non stop action sequences, with the opening showing a tournament between japanese bushidos and kungfu weapons experts. Then we get to the ninja scenes, which are some of the goriest of kungfu films (the stepped on intestines scene is memorable). After this, however, the films slows down until the end where the main character has to use certain techniques to defeat each element. All and all worthy of any collection. If you havent seen it, go!
Dip huet gaai tau (1990)
The best written HK movie ever
Crouching Tiger set the standard that HK and Taiwan were able to produce films that were at the same, perhaps even higher caliber than american films. I have always felt that their films were better even before this. One film that convinced me that HK films could reach out further than american films was this film, John Woo's Bullet in the Head. To sum this film up, its basically John Woo's take on Vietnam, but it really hits you harder than any Nam film ive ever seen. Woo pours alot of thought and emotion into the script and characters, making it more than his shootout/gangster outings. the film never pretends to have a positive connotation, and the ending is absolutely one of the best endings in HK cinema. An absolute masterpiece, see it, or you may never understand how a good action/drama should be done.
Lao shu la gui (1979)
Amazingly unique ol school flick
Kung Fu vs Yoga is another one of hong kong cinema's hidden gems. On the surface, it is poorly conceived, strangely acted, and badly dubbed, but the action well makes up for that. The characters are unique and original, leading up to the final battle with Singh at the end, which is one of the most unique fights in HK cinema history. Singh's otherworldly flexibility is worked into the battle, which lasts about 15 minutes in 3 segments. No one has ever attempted this, nor will any ever succeed at topping this. Truly unique in all aspects, Kungfu VS Yoga is worth seeing.
Tai ji yuan gong (1978)
Best Kungfu Movie ever. Period.
This was the first Kungfu movie I ever purchased, as I was drawn to the cover and storyline. When I first watched it, I was in awe. It was probably one of the few films I watched 2 times in a row in one evening. This film features some of the best fight sequences in any kungfu film. They are fast and creative. Carter Wong does a perfect job as the white haired Chi Kung master who is impervious to all attacks except for in his throat (note: this concept has been done in many other kungfu films, but never was pulled off this well). Lo Lieh is also great as Wong's sidekick with the golden tonfa (one of the coolest weapons in any kungfu movie, it has a blade that shoots out of it so it can be used as a sword and it has a clamp that rips swords). Although the story is fairly basic, we get nearly non stop action from one fight ot another. A true masterpiece in all aspects, and essential for all hong kong film fans.
Chao ji xue xiao ba wang (1993)
Bizarre, yet its still a classic
A great outing from Hong Kong's crazy director, Wong Jing. A roman-a-clef version of Street Fighter II, this film features some of Hong Kong's biggest stars (Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau, Simon Lam). Upon first viewing you may find that your brain is short circuiting due to the bizarreness, but once you finish, you have to go back for more. Every turn in this film leads to another sight gag, from Broom Man's hair, big lips, edible furniture, age reducing syringes, live action Super Mario Brothers, and Dragonball's Son Goku. Not really close to the story of Street Fighter II, most of the characters are here (all except Balrog and Zangief, and the 4 characters added later, although there are 2 Chun Lis in the end). All and all, a classic Hong Kong comedy, others may not think the same, but I can't imagine watching it without laughing insanely.
Zui hou nu (1979)
A forgotten hong kong gem
One of Chen Chi Hwa's early works, this film is a rare hong kong film that ive only seen commercially under the title "Lady Iron Monkey." It tells the story of Ming Ling Shur, a girl who was raised by apes and thus has a natural ability with monkey kung fu. She also resembles a monkey for most of the film (not really explained why). She grows up and falls for a prince who is really an evil kung fu master, who exploits her abilities for his own gain. Now here's why the film works; Kam Fung does an excellent job as the Ape Girl, being very excentric at times with the actions of a monkey. Also, we see early performances by Lo Lieh as an assassin, and Chen Sing as the prince. The martial arts sequences in this film are well choreographed, and the films story is very unique compared to other films. One of my top 3 favorite Hong Kong films, and definately worth the watch.